MURRAY – After the Calloway County Fiscal Court passed several ordinances in the spring and summer establishing a transient tax and a county tourism commission to oversee those funds, the members of the commission have now been appointed.
The court approved an executive order by Calloway County Judge-Executive Kenny Imes appointing seven commissioners, which includes two at-large members. The membership consists of three commissioners representing the hotel industry, one representing the restaurant industry and one from a list submitted by the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce. The two at-large commissioners were chosen from the community. Each member will serve a term for three years, though the initial appointments will be staggered.
The executive order says the commissioners will select a chairman and treasurer to oversee the budget and revenue generated from the 3% tax on the rent of every occupancy of a suite or room after the collection of the new tax begins Jan. 1. The hotel representatives will be Dennis Helmurth, Lauren Kelly and Traci Markum. The restaurant representative will be Adam Carver, and the chamber representative will be Mark McLemore. Shawn Dunnaway and Paul Rister will be the at-large members.
The court also heard from several special taxing districts on their 2021 tax rates, including the Calloway County Board of Health, the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and the Calloway County Fire Protection Board of Trustees . Kim Paschall, interim director of public health at the Calloway County Health Department, said the board had voted to keep the rate of 2.8 cents per $100 of assessed value for both real and personal property and 3.1 cents for motor vehicles and watercraft. She said these rates had not changed since 1987.
Matt Chadwick, agriculture and natural resources agent for Calloway County, said UK Cooperative Extension only collects one tax and that is 1.735 cents per $100 of assessed value on real property. Danny Harrison with the Fire Protection Board said they planned to levy 9 cents for real and personal property and 6 cents for vehicles and watercraft.
The court also passed new subdivision regulations, which County Attorney Bryan Ernstberger last month said the clear up an ambiguity in the ordinance, making it clear that it is at the court’s discretion as to whether or not to complete the roads in a given subdivision.
A public hearing was held prior to the vote. A man – whose name could not be confirmed after the meeting – who said he is the vice president of the Western Shores subdivision told the court he was very concerned about the proposal, which he said had “some far-reaching implications” that would have a “chilling effect on all future development in the county.”
“No prospective property owner of any development can be assured their investment into a scope of work approved by the county will be carried out,” he said. “This proposal allows the county to abandon their commitment and responsibility to the taxpayer, and I believe – and I’m going to use some harsh words – it is capricious and irresponsible. We have subdivision regulations, and we ask that the county write those regulations and enforce those regulations, and this particular proposal says, ‘Well, we can if we want to, but we also can not.’”
He said Western Shores sued the county because former Judge-Executive Larry Elkins “allowed” that subdivision to go unfinished. He said he did not think the new ordinance would prevent a similar situation from happening in another subdivision. Imes defended the new ordinance, saying it was an attempt to upgrade standards for subdivisions. As an example, he mentioned that some county subdivisions had had drainage issues that not been resolved, and that was one of the problems the new regulations seek to avoid.
Bill Call gave an update on the county acquiring the former DES Rescue Squad headquarters at 95 Spruce Street. He said the DES Rescue Board had voted to donate numerous pieces of equipment – including vehicles, boats and rescue equipment – to the county coroner and sheriff’s offices, as well as Calloway County Fire-Rescue and county road department. The one-acre lot, which includes two buildings, has now been donated to the county along with all personal property inside, Call said.
The court voted to accept the real and personal property from DES. Imes asked the court to authorize him to get an appraisal of the property, which the court did. He said the county would need to declare it surplus property before selling it. He thanked former DES Chief Ronnie Burkeen for helping make the transition run smoothly, and thanked Call for spending “untold hours” facilitating the transfer of property.
The court also passed a resolution honoring Cpl. Dana Sheridan, who retired in August after serving 27 years with the Calloway County Sheriff’s Office. She started at CCSO in 1993 and served under four different sheriffs during her career. As bookkeeper and office manager, she was responsible for all phases of accounting and administration and also served as a functioning deputy sheriff. She was named Deputy of the Year in 2012 and received a citation from the Kentucky House of Representatives, the resolution said.
“We try to recognize people that have given so much to our community, and certainly Dana has,” Imes said. “If you know her at all, you know that she’s been one of the most committed workers at the sheriff’s office and public servants that this county has ever seen.
Toward the end of the meeting, Sherman Neal II had asked to speak about his ongoing efforts to get the Confederate monument on Murray’s court square to another location. The court previously voted on July 15 to keep the monument where it is for now, stating in a resolution that if the owner of the statue, the J.N. Williams Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, expressed desire to move the statue in the future, the court would offer its assistance.
Neal said that since the last time he spoke to the court, Daviess County has declared ownership of its Confederate statue and made plans to move it, and Hopkins County has announced plans to erect a Union statue next to the Confederate statue on its courthouse lawn. He noted that Cape Girardeau, Missouri has also removed its Confederate monument. He said he and the rest of the group that wants to move Calloway’s Robert E. Lee statue are planning to open communications with the UDC. He said he had reached out to the chapter president about hosting a joint public forum to engage in a civil discourse about the monument.
“I have believed since the beginning, and I still believe now, that the will of the people supports removal of this monument, and having this forum with county executives and city executives, the UDC and other concerned community members would help us move forward toward its removal,” Neal told the Ledger & Times after the meeting.
After Neal spoke to the court, Ernstberger said he wanted to clarify what he said were several misconceptions about the county’s position on what it could and could not do with the monument. He said he did not see the court’s resolution as delegating responsibility for the monument to the UDC, and he did not think he ever said it could be removed only through an agreement with the UDC. He said the court can choose to move the statue, and although there may be some cost and potential damages involved, that does not mean the court does not have the authority to do so.
In other business:
• The court approved a resolution authorizing Imes to execute an agreement between the county and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Department of Rural and Municipal Aid to provide funding for bituminous resurfacing with hot mix asphalt on various county roads. The project will include parts of Barber Road, Boggess Drive, Cavett Road, Max Duncan Lane, Nanney Neal Road, Shoemaker Road, two sections of Robertson Road and three sections of Snow Road. Imes said the state had agreed to reimburse the county up to $271,909, so as soon as the roads are ready for resurfacing, they could get started.
• The court authorized a resolution authorizing the filing of a Regional Development Agency Assistance Program grant application for up to $153,846.15 for the Murray West Spec Building #1. The application goes to the Department for Local Government, and the Industrial Development Authority would act as the correspondent for the project, the resolution states. Imes said the money would come from the Tennessee Valley Authority in-lieu-of-tax funds the agency sends to the Kentucky state government since it pays no property taxes.
• The court passed a resolution establishing a Calloway County Board of 911 Fee Appeals and outlining its responsibilities. A previous ordinance granted joint authority to the county property valuation administrator and county sheriff to resolve any issues regarding the determination of fees for the county’s 911 Dispatch Center. If a resolution cannot be reached, the ordinance also provides that an appeals board would consider and resolve any grievances.
• The court passed a resolution for the discontinuance of Sue Lane as a county road. John Amberg made the request, as the road contains only his private residence and his business, A & L Body Shop. All adjacent property owners with access to the road also signed a joint petition requesting the discontinuance. According to the resolution, the road has not been maintained by the county or state within the past three years, and Imes said he saw no reason why the county should not meet the request. The road will now be designated as a private drive.
• The court also passed an ordinance establishing for the bid of a non-exclusive telecommunications (or related non-cable) franchise for the placement of facilities within the county’s rights-of-way for a duration of 10 years.
Because of absentee voting occurring in the Miller Courthouse Annex, next month’s fiscal court meeting on Oct. 21 will be held at The Barn at White Oaks, located at 675 Grant Road.